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Tag Archives: Actions

Setting the Table

Prior to fast food dinners out, setting the table was a daily chore delegated by parents to teach their children about how to properly prepare before each meal.  Beyond laying out table arrangements, this term has been adopted by other avenues.  Baseball uses this analogy to encourage players to get into scoring position so that power hitters can drive them home.  After reading a passage of the Bible today, this saying also relates to a spiritual principle.

As it is written in Isaiah the prophet: “I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way,” Mark 1:2.

If you want to change the hearts, minds and souls of other people, a foundation must be set.  There needs to be a beacon of light, pointing the way through their actions, behavior and words.  Although I never thought of it in this manner, John the Baptist set the table for Jesus.  Inspired by a chance to come clean, purge bad habits and verbally profess their shortcomings, John developed a large following who sought forgiveness.  Despite his success, John recognized that he was only a small piece to life’s puzzle, ready to pass the baton to the Savior of the world.

I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit,” Mark 1:8.

Hidden within John’s words is the realization that his ministry was temporary, unable to permanently change individuals.  However, the real Messiah will offer an invisible power called the Holy Ghost in the King’s James Version.  While the power of sin will continue to cause the masses to fall prey to addiction, character flaws and poor decisions.  The hope of the Holy Spirit provides an anointing that can lead to freedom.  May the Lord’s prayer in Matthew 6:9-15 lead you to usher in heaven while living on earth as you set the table for future generations of faith.

by Jay Mankus

 

Getting Close to God’s Heart

To sense the invisible, God created human beings with a conscious, a general awareness to lead you to the right path.  Beyond the ability to feel, hear, see, taste and touch, it takes time to draw near to God.  For some getting close to the Lord’s heart is a lifelong journey, using trial and error to find your way.

And he has raised up for his people a horn, the praise of all his faithful servants, of Israel, the people close to his heart. Praise the LORD, Psalm 148:14.

Along this search, obstacles, road closures and temptation pop up causing some to quit, giving up before acquiring a heart like David.  Finding the time the read the Bible, prayer and meditate on God’s principles is hard to fit into one’s daily schedule.  Thus the thought of getting close to God’s heart becomes a pipe dream for most, content with a mediocre faith.

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart,” 1 Samuel 16:7.

According to Jesus, the heart is like a treasure chest, Luke 6:43-45.  What people store up inside come out in the form of actions, behavior and words.  The moment souls are irritated, pushed or prodded, either good or evil will come out.  In view of this reality, its essential to guard your heart, Proverbs 4:23, nourishing it with the promises of God in the Bible.  Then and only then will seekers begin to get close to God’s heart.

by Jay Mankus

Not Without A Price

Novelist Orson Scott Card made a interesting observation in regards to sacrifice.  “Happiness is not a life without pain, but rather is life in which pain is traded for a worthy price.”  Whether you are referring to freedom of speech, defending a just cause or standing up for what you believe, nothing is accomplished with a cost.

Perhaps, your reputation takes a hit, attacked by those with opposing views.  Or friendships are estranged as your worldview comes in direct conflict with a person you care about.  Either way, actions, choices and decisions will create enemies, hatred or jealousy.  What you need to determine is… is it worth the price?

When becoming of disciple of Jesus became popular, motives for following were mixed.  Some wanted to join because it was cool, others for the fame and a few for the right reasons.  Thus, Jesus set the bar high in Luke 9:57-62, causing many to quit, unable to pay the price.  Whether you are excelling as an athlete, student or servant, to become the greatest in anything takes unswerving devotion.  May you consider the costs, make up your mind and take a leap of faith, paying the price today to achieve a better tomorrow.

by Jay Mankus

A Day Away Can Lead to Years of Regret

If you take my life as exhibit A, its scary how easy it is to ruin a routine.  After nearly 6 months of developing a disciplined Bible reading and prayer time before work, I decided to take yesterday off.  While driving in my car, a thought crossed my mind, “a day away from God can lead to years of regret.”

During my tenure as a high school teacher, I participated in several seminars related to life skills.  I recall one evening at Black Rock Retreat Center as the key note speaker spoke about choices.  Essentially his message concentrated on Ideas have consequences.  Thus, as one’s world view is formed, the choices you make influence your actions, behavior and the words that you choose.  Whether you’re talking about running, working out or spending time with God, a day away can lead to years of regret.

As I look back on my life, distractions reflect where your heart is, Matthew 6:19-22.  When eating, sleeping and watching television becomes more important than the Lord, my priorities have swayed in the wrong direction.  If I let this occurrence become a pattern, regret is a likely fate.  Therefore, whenever you start to slip sliding away from God, react quickly before a spiritual slumber sets in.  In your weakness, Christ can be strong, 2 Corinthians 12:7-12, but you must surrender to obtain the power of the Holy Spirit.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Hearing the Truth

On January 1st, 1863, the emancipation proclamation was issued by president Abraham Lincoln.  This declaration served as a measure during the Civil War, giving 3-4 million slaves in the 10 southern states that rebelled, freedom from their owners.  Unfortunately, for those in Texas, the news did not arrive until June 19th, 1865.  The truth about slavery was withheld, 30 months late, allowing slave owners to maintain control until 2 months after the Civil war ended.

Today, America’s media has become more partisan than ever.  If this trend continues, what facts will be kept silent?  More than ever before, news is being filtered for political means, overemphasizing the positive and suppressing any negative information.  Unless one does their homework, studying history, researching records and testing everything that you hear, read or see, 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22, you might be surprised by the message journalists want you to believe.

According to Dr. Tony Evans, when the end of slavery was brought forth to Texans, several slaves did not know how to respond to freedom.  Like the Israelites in Egypt, they had grown accustom to a certain way of life, dependent on others for aid and shelter.  Subsequently, some remained prisoners to this way of life.  From a spiritual sense, a vast amount of citizens find themselves enslaved to sin, Romans 7:14-20, unable to free their actions from addictive behavior.  Unless people hear the truth, Romans 10:17, individuals will continue down this lonesome road.  May you be inspired to read the words of Jesus in John 8:34-36 so that you will hear the truth and the truth will set you free!

by Jay Mankus

No Pets for You

During the 7th season of Seinfeld, episode 116 introduced the “Soup Nazi” to pop culture.  Larry Thomas played this vibrant character, excessively strict and unwilling to bow down to the requests of patrons like Jerry, Elaine and George.  Subsequently, when the Soup Nazi felt disrespected, he coined the phrase, “no soup for you,” becoming an instant sensation and regular guest on Seinfeld.

While reading Exodus 11:27, I was surprised to see cats and dogs are deemed unclean by God.  Any creature with paws and walk on all fours are off limits.   Any Jew who touched a cat or dog would become unclean til evening, forced to wash their clothes as well.  Essentially, God was telling the Israelites, “no pets for you!”

Today, OCD, obsessive compulsive disorder, takes the words of the Bible to the extreme.  According to Jesus, what you touch doesn’t make you clean or unclean.  Purity or the lack there of comes from within, Luke 6:43-45.  Therefore, your heart determines your actions, behavior and words.  In view of this truth, Jesus urged his followers to set their hearts on things above, Matthew 6:19-21.  The apostle Paul takes this one step further in Colossians 3:1-4, encouraging individuals to set your hearts on eternal things.  Whether you like pets or not, the Bible doesn’t restrict animals today; God introduced free will to enable you to make your own choices.

by Jay Mankus

 

Before God’s Presence Appears

Most Americans have become spoiled, expecting a response at the snap of their fingers.  Subsequently, when people go out to eat, go to a show or make a significant purchase, they want perfection.  When disappointed by a product or service, heads will roll and reputations will be harmed if these individuals don’t get their way.  If this is how a growing number of citizens are responding, its no wonder God is waiting to appear until faith and actions coexist.

The book of Leviticus consists of a conversation God had with Moses while on Mount Sinai in Exodus.  As I recently read through Leviticus, a pattern forms throughout the first 8 chapters, “God said to Moses.”  Following these instructions, Aaron and his sons did everything the Lord told Moses.  However, it wasn’t until Leviticus 9:4 before God’s presence appears before Israel.  Thus, this passage suggests God is waiting for his children to carefully follow the Bible’s commands prior to being accompanied by blessings, Deuteronomy 28:2.

While some may say, “what are you waiting for,” others are trying to twist the Bible to conform to their own beliefs.  As for me, a lack of results makes the obvious seem clear once again, “be doers of the word, not just hearers,” Matthew 7:24-27.  Once I realign my priorities to Matthew 6:33, God promises to provide for my daily needs.  Therefore, if you are hungry and thirsty to experience God’s presence, listen to words of Jesus like Aaron followed Moses.

Let us know when you’ve encountered God’s presence.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Gift of Imperfection

Sports uses cards, errors, flags, fouls and misconducts to magnify mistakes made by participants.  The world isn’t as kind calling individuals frauds, hypocrites and losers when actions, behavior or words don’t live up to their expectations.  While the 2006 film The Ultimate Gift illuminated several gifts that people take for granted daily, one is missing from their list.  Perhaps the greatest of all is the gift of imperfection.

Although Jesus’ goal is to strive for perfection, Matthew 5:48, to obtain this is impossible.  Romans 3:9-12 breaks the bad news to mankind as everyone who has attempted this feat has failed at some point in their quest.   Since sin was conceived in the Garden of Eden, a generation of misfits have come up short, unable to please God, Romans 3:23.  Like a mad scientist going back to the drawing board, the sinful nature has foiled any hope of earning salvation on your own, Romans 6:23, requiring plan Z.

At the end of the road, hanging by a cross, Jesus has come to our rescue, Colossians 2:13-15.  Despite my intentions on wanting to control my own destiny, Jesus holds the keys to the kingdom, Matthew 16:19.  Therefore, I need to grasp the secret the apostle Paul discovered during an illness, 2 Corinthians 12:7-10.  The gift of imperfection forces souls to place their entire trust in the hands of an unseen God.  The weaker one is, 1 Timothy 1:16, the stronger the Holy Spirit can become.  May you experience this special gift, securing your reservations for eternity, 1 John 5:13, by letting go through faith.

Feel free to comment or share a time when you were weak, but Christ was strong!

by Jay Mankus

 

 

No Intentional Passes

As baseball fans await Sunday, March 30th, Opening Night for MLB as the Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks will meet in Sydney Australia, its time to freshen up on the lingo used in America’s pastime.  Whenever a clutch or power hitter faces a pitcher with runners in scoring position on either second or third base, its not uncommon to intentionally or unintentionally walk this player to face a less dangerous batter.  Great pitchers will try to fool these individuals with throws that look like a good pitch before falling out of the strike zone.  Although they may give up a walk, broadcasters will use the phrase, unintentional / intentional pass.

In life, this term has become too familiar, excusing individuals for their actions, behavior and comments.  Like Adam in the Garden of Eden, Genesis 3:12, people have become experts in playing the blame game, passing the buck to someone else more fitting.  To escape punishment, rationalization has become a way of life to avoid consequences, shifting all the responsibility like a dishonest politician.  If this trend continues, no one will accept blame or take the fall, dodging the truth with distortion and lies.

According to Moses in Leviticus 4:22 and 4:27, unintentional sin is a common occurrence.  If someone has not heard, does not know or hasn’t been properly informed about God’s command, this individual is deemed amoral, not knowing right from wrong.  However, once this information has been clarified, no intentional passes should be granted.  Guilty parties should follow the principle set forth by Jesus’ own brother, James 5:16.  Since Jesus has become today’s great high priest, no shedding of blood is necessary anymore, Hebrews 4:15-17.  Thus, when you are convicted of a trespass against one of the Bible’s laws, approach the throne of grace with confidence God will pass over your sin, leading you around the bases of life.

Do you have a story of starting over that you’d like to share with my readers?

by Jay Mankus

 
    
 

How Bad Do You Really Want It?

If I had to take an honest assessment of my goals in life  and compare this with how I actually spend my time, my actions display a lack of hunger to make my American Dream a reality.  While playing on a  Florida mini-tour in 1995, I met several individuals who were willing to risk everything, sacrificing food, shelter and wants to one day make the P.G.A. Tour.  Clearly, they wanted it more than me as some ate peanut butter and jelly 3 times a day, 7 days a week, a few lived in their cars and many more worked the night shift so they could play in golf tournaments during the day.  In essence, I’m the only one to blame for not fulfilling this desire of my heart.

Cover Photo

Nearly 20 years later, I not willing to let another dream slip through my hands.  Back in the late 90’s, I had a 45 minute phone conversation with Max Lucado’s editor, set up by a mutual friend who owned a Christian Bookstore.  At the time, I was a freelance writer trying to break through, asking as many questions as possible without being rude.  Two of his statements serve as a glimmer of hope for this amateur author: “If you want to get noticed, the average professional writes full time for 7 years before getting paid or if you can only afford to do this part time, you must be willing to invest 15 years of your life.”  Over the past 3 years, I am in the process of paying my dues, with over 700 daily articles, 1 complete 90 minute movie script and currently a third of the way through my first book called Behind the Devil’s Door.  Though I could probably devote more time to writing each week, this time around the block I want it more than ever.

In Psalm 27:4, King David asks a similar question, but from a spiritual perspective: “How badly do you want to spend time with God?”  Are you happy with your current relationship or are holding back, not ready to commit fully to the Lord?  Based upon verses 1-3, if you are afraid, faithless or weak, you’re likely missing essential pieces.  What’s holding you back, keeping you from experiencing the presence of the Holy Spirit daily?  Perhaps you don’t want God as bad as He longs to be with you, Luke 15:20.  May the words of Matthew 6:33-34 provide the assurance you need to re-prioritize your life as soon as possible.  While every human feels the pain of unfulfilled dreams, I pray that gazing upon the beauty of the Lord will transform your perspective on life.  Your actions in the days that follow will answer the question, how bad do you really want it?

by Jay Mankus

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